"In the Shadow of the Mountains: A Study of Women and Problem Drug Addiction in West Virginia"

The women of West Virginia have been succumbing to problem drug addiction at an alarming rate. Overdoses and overdose related deaths in the state have been rising to the point of more than doubling the national average in the past ten years. Nationwide women are the fastest growing demographic of illicit drug users. Current scholarship on drug addiction shows there is a perfect recipe which helps to create a person with substance abuse issues, namely depression, lack of education, lack of opportunity, history of sexual or domestic abuse, and low socioeconomic standing. Very few works have correlated the fact that these issues are rampant in southern West Virginia where drug abuse has dominated the local narrative. The cultural ideals of women and their role in society in southern West Virginia have worked to keep women in a patriarchal cycle which leaves them feeling they have very little access to opportunity. Using current data of drug use and overdose rates, teen birth rates in southern West Virginia, employment data, drop-out rates and higher education statistics, this work will link the situation in southern West Virginia to scholarship on the state of women in the region as well as research on problem drug addiction. In doing so, this work will show that women of Appalachia are using illicit drugs to escape the pain and loneliness they feel from the pressures and stress of the cultural ideals of Appalachia as well as the socioeconomic turmoil they find themselves suffering in southern West Virginia.